We all wish our dogs could live forever, or at least as long as we do.
Unfortunately, dogs’ lifespans are much shorter than ours, at only 10-13 years generally.
When our dogs become elderly, we sometimes need help deciding when to put a dog down due to old age.
There are some things you can look for to help you determine when to put a dog down due to old age as discussed below.
Dogs Are Our Companions, Our Friends and Often They Change Our Lives
Our dogs offer years of unconditional companionship. They greet us with happy, wagging tails, often dancing around our feet at the front door.
I had been attacked by a very large dog at the age of 3 and spent the next 12 years terrified of all dogs, large or small. I had nightmares and would run from dogs regularly.
The time came, however, that my family decided that something had to happen to help me move past this trauma. I couldn’t spend my life this way.
Enter Maggy. We got Maggy at 8 weeks old when I was 15. She was a timid, shaking thing that was afraid to go outside to potty or be left alone.
It didn’t take long for this tiny little dog to get used to us and begin bursting with personality. She helped me learn that dogs aren’t bad, and they aren’t vicious.
I now can be around all sorts of dogs and enjoy them. She saved me from a phobia and changed my life.
She almost died once as a puppy, but we nursed her back to health and she lived to be 17 years old. Saying goodbye to her is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
That’s why it is important to understand when to put a dog down due to old age.
Dogs Don’t Live Forever
When our dogs reach old age, their bodies begin to deteriorate similarly to humans. As that happens, we must start thinking about our dog’s health and well-being as the begin to decline.
Often our dogs begin to develop diseases or parts of their bodies begin to break down and cause pain and suffering. When our dogs reach their senior years, there are difficult questions we must begin asking ourselves.
Some questions to ask:
- What is Her Quality of Life?
- Does She Have a Terminal Condition?
- Is she still Eating and drinking?
- Does she seem to be in Pain?
- Is She Active?
- Is She Playful?
- Too weak to stand, walk or hold their head up?
- Is she Incontinent?
- Is she Withdrawn?
There are many signs that can indicate if your dog is suffering. Sometimes he may be in a lot of pain, having trouble breathing, developed cancer, suffering from organ failure, and other end of life problems.
When your dog is suffering from ailments such as these it may be time to think about when to put a dog down due to old age.
When to Put A Dog Down Due to Old Age?
We were blessed to have Maggy with us for 17 years. Her last few days before we put her down, she suddenly became ill.
We had no warning.
One day she was chasing us around and playing like a puppy and then the next she stood up in her bed and just fell over.
We rushed her to the vet and found out she had congenital heart failure. We took a couple of days to treat her with medicine, she still had some good moments during those days and we were able to tell her goodbye.
But on her last day she seemed to be all out of energy and all out of life. We weren’t sure if she would even make it to the vet in time.
I still wonder if we waited too long.
It still saddens me to think about her being gone, but I know I couldn’t have handled her suffering for long. She had done too much for me to allow her to be in pain or have trouble breathing. It wouldn’t be fair.
It comes down to quality of life, not quantity. Just existing isn’t helpful to your dog. When to put a dog down due to old age is a question most dog owners must ask themselves.
They say that dogs feel pain similarly to humans because our organ systems are similar.
If we consider our dogs ailments and symptoms and relate them to how those would make us feel, it can be a very helpful method in understanding when to put a dog down due to old age.
Because dogs don’t have the ability to choose their medical care or tell us their end-of-life choices, it is up to us to help them, regardless of how much we don’t want to say goodbye.
Euthanizing our dogs when they are suffering is showing mercy and compassion, and is the ultimate gift of love, considering our great pain in letting them go.
Quality of Life Questions to Ask
It is extremely helpful to consider quality of life questions as if we were making the decision for ourselves.
In doing so, we have a better ability to fairly asses our dog’s probable feelings and how best to address what their wishes might be, could they tell us themselves.
- If you were in constant pain, would you want it to stop, no matter what?
- Think about the things you most enjoy. Now consider if you weren’t able to do them any longer, would you want to continue with your life as it is?
- Do your bad days outnumber your good days?
- What if you were incontinent?
- What if you couldn’t walk and have no way to be mobile?
- If you were already elderly and only had a short time left to live, would you want to prolong the inevitable with painful surgery and difficult recovery?
Unfortunately, as dog owners, we also must consider the financial aspects. Often, risky or experimental surgeries and treatments are also very expensive.
While we want to do everything possible for our dogs, sometimes it isn’t possible to afford these financial burdens when your dog is already in poor health and a good outcome is unlikely.
Again, think of it as if it were you and how you would want your family to handle it. Consider all of these factors in deciding when to put a dog down due to old age.
Only You Can Decide When To Put A Dog Down Due To Old Age
While our dogs cannot verbally express their wishes, their behaviour and expressions will lead us. Many times, their eyes are the most telling—the light seems to fade, and they seem to plead with us to make their suffering end.
It isn’t an easy decision when it is time to put a dog down due to old age, in fact, it is one of the hardest decisions.
Even when it is such a heartbreaking decision, we must do what is best for our dog at the time.
It’s important to think about these things before it gets to the point that you are deciding when to put a dog down due to old age.
- Write down the things she enjoys.
- Write down what you are willing to do and how much you are willing to spend.
- How much pain or suffering are you willing to allow her to live with?
If you think through these questions when you’re not full of emotion, it will help you down the road.